Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Young, Drunk, Driving--Part Two
"Police say a 19-year-old woman accused of driving drunk Sunday never hit the brakes as she struck three pedestrians and drove nearly 100 feet with one of them on her car before crashing into a tree. The driver accused in the wreck, on East Seventh Street in Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood, was already facing a DWI charge from May and had her license revoked.
Kirstie Pienta (pic), of Charlotte, remained in critical condition late Monday at Carolinas Medical Center. One of the pedestrians, Danielle Moore, 27, of West Chester, Ohio, also was hospitalized at CMC and was expected to recover. The other two victims were treated and released from Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday, at least one of them with a broken leg.
On Monday, one of the victims, with a cast on his right leg, said he hopes Pienta recovers. 'I want her to be OK, and learn from this and get some serious help,' Michael Hayes told Observer news partner WCNC-TV. 'She's got to learn her lesson.'
Police said witnesses reported that Pienta was driving over the 35 mph speed limit about 2 a.m. Sunday when she hit the pedestrians, who had just left Jackalope Jack's, an East Seventh Street restaurant and bar.
They were not in a crosswalk, police said, but had crossed two of the three lanes when they were hit. The police report shows no indication that the investigating officer believed the pedestrians were impaired. It also shows they were not tested for alcohol. Pienta was driving her father's 2002 Mercedes inbound on Seventh Street, police said. Court records show her apartment is two blocks from the scene of the wreck.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer J.S. Cerdan said Pienta was driving at what 'several witnesses believed to be in excess of 45 mph.'
Two pedestrians - Hayes, 24, and Damion Jenkins, 26, both of Charlotte - were knocked down by the car. Moore was 'hit squarely' by the front of the Mercedes and carried 99 feet before the car swerved left and hit a sign and then crashed into a tree, according to Cerdan's report. Moore slid off the car before it hit the tree. The police report said the wreck happened 'without signs of braking.'
Meredith Jones, 32, was at the Philosopher's Stone tavern nearby shooting pictures of a friend's band Sunday. She walked out and heard the car hit the tree. She saw two men sitting on the road, and a woman unconscious and bleeding from injuries to her legs. People were helping them, so she ran to the wrecked car, where she saw the driver slumped across the front seats and bleeding.
'Her legs were in the driver's side, and her body was (toward) the passenger door,' Jones said. Jones was shocked to realize she knew the driver - an ex-boyfriend's neighbor - and told paramedics, 'That's Kirstie!'
Steven Pienta, her father and the car's registered owner, could not be reached Monday. Moore, reached at her hospital room Monday, declined to talk about the wreck. Jenkins couldn't be reached. Records show Pienta was charged May 31 with driving while impaired, after she was pulled for speeding and tailgating on Interstate 77 near Wilkinson Boulevard. She was also charged with driving after consuming alcohol while underage, and speeding 80 in a 55 mph zone.
She was driving a 2005 Kia sedan, records show. Pienta blew a .15 alcohol concentration about an hour later, records show, nearly twice the legal limit of .08. She was charged and released on a $1,500 secured bond.
She failed to appear July 21 in traffic court for the speeding charge and was scheduled to be tried Aug. 30 for the alcohol consumption and DWI charges. Now Pienta faces new charges of DWI, reckless driving, driving after consuming alcohol under the age of 21, and driving with a revoked license."